The Free Press, Mankato, MN

October 3, 2013

In SCC football, it's 8th-ranked Waseca that TAKES CONTROL

Jays beat defending state champ BEA last week

By Chad Courrier
The Mankato Free Press

---- — It’s been a tough three weeks for the Waseca football team, but the Bluejays have taken control of the South Central Conference with two league games remaining.

“Four of the five teams we’ve played so far were ranked when we played them,” Waseca coach Brad Wendland said. “The schedule has been unforgiving, but last week was a great week for our school.”

The Bluejays (5-0), the No. 8-rated team in Class AAAA, knocked off defending Class AAA champion Blue Earth Area 30-18 on Friday. That victory came after wins over St. Peter (48-24) and Fairmont (43-27) that has produced a one-game lead in the SCC.

Against BEA, senior quarterback Thomas O’Neil rushed for 237 yards and three touchdowns of 40 or more yards.

He also threw a 64-yard touchdown pass. In just five games, O’Neil has rushed for 1,018 yards and 14 touchdowns, and he’s passed for 1,034 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Both the single-season school records for rushing and passing are well within his reach at his current pace.

“He just has a knack for making the right play,” Wendland said. “If we need to run, he’ll run. If we need to pass, he’ll pass. He’s making very good decisions with the ball.”

Waseca’s opponents so far have a combined record of 15-10, with five of those losses coming to the Bluejays.

Waseca plays at winless New Ulm on Friday. The Bluejays then play at St. James Area (2-3) on Oct. 11 before finishing the regular season with a nonconference game at Fridley.

Nicollet QB record

It was inevitable that Nicollet junior Dalton Elliott would own some career quarterback records, but he’s already racking up big numbers just five games into his junior season.

Last week, in Nicollet’s 78-58 victory over Randolph, Elliott broke the school’s career record for passing touchdowns with 59 and total offense with 6,293 yards.

In the game, he passed for 341 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for 223 yards and two touchdowns.

“He really has flourished in our system,” Nicollet coach Tom Murphy said. “He understands the game so well, and he makes things happen. When the play breaks down, he’s able to make something work.”

For the season, Elliott is 72 of 125 passing for 1,229 yards and 17 touchdowns, and he’s rushed for 552 yards and six scores.

In his 17-game career, which began late in his freshman season, Elliott has produced 6,293 yards of offense. He’s completed 312 of 570 passes for 4,706 yards with a school-record 59 touchdown passes.

He’s also rushed for 1,561 yards and 16 touchdowns in his career.

Nicollet (5-0), which is ranked seventh in Class Nine-man, hosts Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton on Friday.

Seeding scenarios

It looks like, barring a crazy upset, the Mankato West will end up as the No. 2 seed in Class 2AAAAA. Chaska is undefeated and has games remaining against Holy Angels (2-3), Northfield (1-4) and New Prague (0-5).

The Scarlets (4-1) have games remaining at home against Rochester Century (2-3) on Friday and on the road against Faribault (4-1) and Rochester Mayo (4-1). West may have to win out to keep the No. 2 seed. Chanhassen is 3-2 with games remaining at Farmington (4-1), home against Shakopee (3-2) and at Red Wing (0-5).

The top two teams in the section get byes in the first round.

Chaska is rated second in Class AAAAA, while West is No. 6.

Mankato East (1-4) could get a home game in the playoff opener if it could win a couple more games. The Cougars are home against Winona (1-4) and Owatonna (5-0) before finishing the regular season at Austin (1-4).

Hutchinson (5-0) and Waseca (5-0) are likely to get byes in the first round of the Class 2AAAA playoffs. Marshall is 2-3, with East and Dassel-Cokato both at 1-4. New Ulm is 0-5.

Games to watch

New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva (3-2, 3-0 in Gopher Valley AA) at Maple River (5-0, 3-0) meet with first place in the Gopher Valley AA Conference on the line.

Two of the three unbeaten teams in the Southern Minnesota Conference will meet when Martin County West plays at Wabasso.

Martin County West is ranked ninth in Class AA, while Wabasso is seventh in Class A.